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Cooking eggs by the numbers
Gyeran Jjim is a favorite at Kaya Korean Restaurant.

Cooking eggs by the numbers

THE BACONMAN COMETH - Sharwin Tee (The Philippine Star) - March 12, 2020 - 12:00am

If there’s one ingredient that chefs not only love to cook but also eat, it’s the seemingly simple chicken egg. I say “seemingly simple” because, while cooking eggs usually involves just one to two steps, it takes practice to truly master them. In fact, many chefs ask for an applicant to make them a plain omelet, as a final test to see if they should hire an aspiring cook.

I’m often asked for tips on cooking eggs, and while I am horrible at math, my best egg-cooking tips can be taught as easily as counting from one to eight:

1 – is how much white vinegar to add to 2 cups of water when boiling or poaching eggs: 1 tablespoon of white vinegar helps coagulate the eggs, giving it a better shape.

2  - is how long to poach: Poaching eggs in slightly simmering water for 2 minutes gets you the best results. The egg whites will still be soft and the yolks will be cooked but runny.

3 – is the best number of eggs to use when making omelets in a standard, small nonstick sauté pan. Three gives you enough volume to help you not overcook the omelet and leave it fluffy and moist.

4 ( and 1/2) – is the number of minutes you cook an egg in boiling water to achieve the perfect soft-boiled egg. Slightly solid white with super-runny yolks, it’s awesome combined with salt, pepper and pork floss.

5 – is the number of minutes you let an egg steep in just-boiled water to achieve the barely cooked Malaysian/Singapore style eggs that go perfectly with kaya toast. Make sure to season with soy sauce and white pepper!

6 - is the number of minutes you cook an egg in boiling water to get the aji tamago-style eggs you find in ramen. Just make sure to dunk the eggs in an ice-water bath immediately to maintain the gelatinous texture of the yolks.

7 – is the number to remember when cooking hard-boiled eggs. Start by placing the eggs in room-temperature water. Bring the water to a boil, and then let the eggs cook for 7 minutes. Immediately dunk the cooked eggs in an ice-water batch to prevent the yolks from getting that blue/gray color.

8 – Meanwhile, here are my 8 favorite egg dishes, in no particular order:

Gyeran Jjim - This steamed egg dish has become a staple order for me whenever I eat in a Korean restaurant. Served in a hot, fireproof bowl, the eggs are light, fluffy with a slight hit of umami from a broth infused with seaweed. Plus, its subtle, more neutral taste plays an excellent foil to the spicy Korean pork dishes (like Jeyuk Bokkeum) that I like. I find that Kaya, the Korean restaurant, makes a pretty consistent one.

Devilled Eggs - There is a reason classics are called classics. Devilled eggs, one of the earliest egg dishes I learned in culinary school, continue to be a treat for me. The yolks, when mixed with the right amount of spice and mayo, becomes absolutely creamy. If you’re looking to get a devilled egg fix, Lusso at Greenbelt 5 has a platter where you can try different flavors. I particularly like the one with salmon roe on top.

Truffle Scramble Tartine - Soft scrambled eggs are very difficult to master and so is utilizing truffle flavors, so kudos are definitely in order for Apero in Corinthian Hills. The eggs are scrambled with sliced shiitake mushrooms and truffle essence and they are served quite runny, which is perfect over their sourdough bread made in-house.

Chawan Mushi from Kimpura is subtly delicious.

Chawan Mushi - The Japanese version of steamed egg has a silky, custard-like texture, making it light and a perfect appetizer. Usually it has some crabstick, shrimp, chicken or mushrooms as well, all adding subtle hints of flavor. It’s definitely one of my comfort food dishes and when I need one; I head to Kimpura to get one.

Tyler’s Cafe serves Eggs Benedict with beautifully poached eggs.

Eggs Benedict - One of the reasons why I love breakfast food so much is Eggs Benedict. I mean, perfectly poached eggs, bacon and hollandaise sauce? There are few things better (and richer) than that. Poaching eggs perfectly is a difficult task, particularly in a restaurant kitchen, but I trust the people at Tyler’s Cafe along Katipunan.

Omurice - From the name, it’s easy to infer that this dish is an egg omelet wrapped around rice. I prefer mine with fried chicken plus a ton of Japanese curry sauce. There really is something about Japanese curry and eggs that, when combined, produce a delicious combination. For a quick Japanese curry-and-egg fix, there’s always Coco Ichibanya.

The Missus is pretty much everything you want in a breakfast sandwich at Bean and Yolk.

Scrambled Egg Sandwich - It’s easy to see scrambled eggs are a favorite of mine, so putting them in between brioche and then adding in some cheese will immediately put you in my good graces. As simple as this equation is, not a lot of places offer it, so trekking to Bean and Yolk in Westgate to get their Missus sandwich is a thing to do.

Egg salad sandwiches can easily be made at home but are tasty treats.

Egg Salad Sandwich - A guilty pleasure, I’m confident this dish invokes the same feelings of excitement and hunger in most people as myself. The best part about this dish? You can get all the ingredients you need in the grocery store. Get some really soft and buttery white bread, fresh chicken eggs and Japanese mayo. Make sure to season the egg salad with salt and pepper so its flavors will stand with the bread. That’s it.

Oftentimes, people get nervous when they are cooking for me or other chefs because they think chefs are picky when it comes to food. I’ll let you in on a secret: cook us some eggs, and we’ll be happy!   

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Sharwin’s book, So, You Want To Be A Chef? is available in all National Book Stores and Powerbooks nationwide. Follow Sharwin’s food adventures on Instagram @chefsharwin and for questions, reactions, recipe and column suggestions, you can contact him on www.sharwintee.com.

COOKING EGG EGGS
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